Characterized by simple and clean designs with pared-down dials, minimalist watches prioritize functionality and legibility and do away with unnecessary and fussy details. Not all, but many minimalist watches are inspired by Bauhaus design, a movement that emerged in the early 20th century, which emphasizes the principle of “form follows function.” In other words, the aesthetic appearance of an object should be a natural outgrowth of its functional purpose.
Minimalist watches may be simple and understated but that does not mean they are boring — far from it. In fact, these timepieces are appealing because of restraint. Here are 12 of the best minimalist watches to prove that point.
Swatch Minimal Line Blue
Starting off our list with a cheap minimalist watch, it’s all in the name with the Swatch Minimal Line Blue watch, which combines a sleek almost all-black design with pops of electric blue. The 41mm Biosourced black case is paired with a black silicone strap and Swatch has even managed to add a day-date window at 3 o’clock without disrupting the minimalist design of the watch.
Timex Marlin Automatic
Inspired by the sixties Marlin model, the modern Timex Marlin Automatic is an excellent option if you’re looking for an affordable self-winding minimalist watch. Housed inside the 40mm steel case is a clean silver dial punctuated with slim hour markers, slim hands at the center, and a subtle date window at 3 o’clock.
Tissot Everytime 40MM
One way to pull off a simple watch design is to keep everything in one color. A striking illustration of that approach is this monochromatic gold-toned Tissot Everytime 40mm quartz watch, which features a yellow gold PVD stainless steel case, a gold PVD stainless steel mesh bracelet, and a champagne time-only dial. However, if you want a change of pace from the one-tone look, the interchangeable system makes it easy to swap out the strap on this minimalist watch for men or women.
Sternglas Naos Automatik
Minimalism doesn’t mean a lack of color – just look at this vibrant Sternaglas Naos Automatik with a punchy yellow dial inside a 38mm steel case. Adhering to classic Bahuas design, Sternglas keeps the hour markers and hands on the minimalist Naos watch super thin and includes a subtle date window (with a color-matched disc) at 6 o’clock.
Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Auto
For a dressy minimalist watch, the Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Auto is a delightful choice. The combination of a PVD rose gold-tone 38mm case, smokey brown dial, and brown leather strap dress things up while the uncluttered dial with ultra-thin hands and indices keeps things understated. Hamilton also makes this model with a 42mm case for those who prefer larger watches.
Junghans Max Bill Automatic Bauhaus
Chances are if you say the term “minimalist watches,” one of the first names you’ll hear is Junghans Max Bill–and for good reason. Designer Max Bill teamed up with watch brand Junghans in the early-1960s to design minimalist Bauhaus watches and the rest is history. This particular version includes a 38mm steel case and a matte white dial that comes alive with dashes of red.
Nomos Glashütte Tangente
Another hero of the minimalist watch movement is the German watch brand, NOMOS Glashütte. With a catalog that is packed with understated watches, the one that arguably put the brand on the map is the Tangente with its restrained 35mm steel case and appealing dial that mixes numerals, stick markers, and blue hands. Plus the watch runs on an in-house hand-wound NOMOS Alpha caliber.
Oris Artelier S
Introduced in 2023, Oris states that the Artelier S is “one of the most elegant watches” it has ever made – and we don’t disagree. The 38mm steel case of this automatic watch includes a slim bezel while its rich forest green time-only dial with unobtrusive markers is a beautiful illustration of design restraint. A dark brown leather strap with a stainless steel folding clasp completes the timepiece’s clean look.
Grand Seiko Elegance SBGW281
Grand Seiko has made its mark on the luxury watch market with seemingly simple watches that are exquisitely finished. The automatic Grand Seiko Elegance SBGW281, which draws its inspiration from Bantō, the season in Japan when the warmth of the sun signals the end of winter, includes a beautiful champagne-colored textured dial with just a trio of hands at the center that point to faceted indexes.
Omega De Ville Tresor
The De Ville Tresor line is home to Omega’s dress watches, many of which benefit from minimalist designs. For instance, this steel 40mm version is home to a spectacular blue patterned dial, which sets the perfect background for the slim hands, baton indexes, and date window. Finishing off the elegant style of the minimalist hand-wound Omega watch is the matching blue leather strap.
Tank Louis Cartier
One of the world’s most famous watches, the Cartier Tank is available in countless variations, including ultra-minimalist ones. Take for instance this hand-wound Tank Louis Cartier, released in 2003, which marries a solid yellow gold case with a gorgeous black lacquered dial void of any indices. All we get is a pair of gold sword-shaped hands at the center, topped with the illustrious Cartier name, framed within the signature square-shaped case.
H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Centre Seconds Vantablack®
Independent watchmaker H. Moser & Cie goes the extra mile when making its minimalistic watches by eschewing any logs or text on the dial. A perfect example is the H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Centre Seconds Vantablack® watch with a 40mm steel case. Vantablack® is the blackest man-made material in existence and using it for the dial adds incredible depth to this understated time-only Moser watch.
Those are our top picks for the best minimalist watches. As you can clearly see, these no-nonsense timepieces are far from boring. They generally focus on one or two design aspects, whether color, typography, shape, or texture, and keep everything else understated to allow those to shine.
Do you own a minimalist watch? If not, would you consider adding one to your collection? Did we miss any of your favorites – leave us a comment down below!